The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

H201 Driving Transformation

A variety of factors influence transformation. Usually, however, one factor is the initiator. For example and obvious dangerous threat which has defeated a country in the past could be the factor which initiates the transformation process. Once that initiator is successful in “kick-starting” the transformation process the remaining factors interact with each other dynamically to eventually achieve the end result product of transformation. Which of the factors was the most important for starting the transformation process during the interwar years? In some countries and military services transformation did not occur, or failed to transform into a successful form. In the interwar years what factor was the most important to inabling or preventing successful transformation? The dynamics that effected transformation in the interwar years continue to effect transformation today. Which is the most important factor effecting transformation in the U.S. military today?

November 30, 2016 - Posted by | H200, leadership, military history, Professional Military Education, Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. During the interwar period, the threat largely drove the innovation process. Given that the Army did not have a major role to play with regard to the threat, it is understandable why the Navy benefited the most during the interwar period. Innovations such as the aircraft carrier and the use of military aircraft were recognized by many nations but definitely capitalized upon by the USN. Because of this interwar innovation, the USN was extremely well postured to enter the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. The Japanese recognized this which explains their reasoning for attempting to wipe out the U.S. Pacific Fleet in their surprise attack.

    Compared to today, the threat still drives many aspects of the innovation occurs. However I would argue that because the threat is less well-defined we still experience tension about how to go about transformation.

    Comment by Justin Reddick | December 2, 2016

  2. Justin, I agree with your comments and would like to add that Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, in 1913, under Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and President Woodrow Wilson. He is regarded as one of the great contributors in ship building and innovation during the interwar years. He fought to maintain the naval aviation as part of the service against the hard criticism of ADM William Benson. Both men disagreed with the employment of naval air power during fleet operations. Roosevelt personally ordered the preservation of the Navy’s Aviation Division after WWI. On the other hand, Benson could not conceive of any use for aviation with maritime operations. In 1917, he asked for additional funding to fit the fleet with a greater submarine capability. He became an advocate of undersea tactics to combat enemy threats while keeping the sea lines of communication open. Therefore, when he became the President of the United States, in 1933, he ensured that the Navy’s budget was in accordance with his initial vision and it continue the transformation process. This political factor was the main catalyst that ensured that the Navy was well postured for WWII.

    Comment by Diego Alvarado | December 3, 2016

  3. I believe the most important factor effecting transformation in the U.S. military today is political factors. For the purposes of this blog I will limit political factors to the section of congress responsible for creating the budget. Working in the acquisition career field I understand how the development of technologies shape the capabilities of our fighting force. As an example, it has been several years since a budget was passed and we did not need a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating. This is a huge roadblock to transformation because the CR limits what you can spend money on. As an example, I managed a program tasked to replace obsolete technology in an aircraft. We had a contractor finishing up the engineering development and ready to assume production. But due to CR constraints we were delayed 2 years. Why you ask? It was because CRs limit the budget you are allocated in the current year to a portion of the previous years budget. In this case the engineering done in the previous year was cheaper than the production in the current year. The slowing of technology slows the transformation of the military because it forces us to live with older technologies longer.

    Comment by Jeffery Hoover | December 9, 2016

  4. The interwar period was one of the most critical periods throughout the 20th century. There were varies of factors that started the transformation process during this period, but the most important one was the political factor and the public opinions. Countries like Germany or Italy began their actual transformation process after Hitler and Mussolini in order became in a leading position. In addition, the transformation, in Countries like Uk or France, the transformation process did not start until they fixed their political problems by putting persons like Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill and Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle in the leading position in UK nad France in order. The political situation was the leading factor of transformation during the interwar period and I think it always will be the leading factor all if the times. In the other hand, The military culture was the most important factor to enabling or preventing successful transformation. The military culture drove the transformation and it also limited the innovation for any other services except the navy. We could see a lot of progress happened for the Navy during this period. There was innovation in the submarine, aircraft carriers, battleships, ..etc. The navy was in a leading position, especially in the USA. As known in the military culture the senior always win, as a result, the other new services like the air forces had limited innovation during the interwar period to any services. The dynamics that affected transformation in the interwar years continue to effect transformation today. From my perspective, the military culture which mixed with the political situation are the most important factors effecting transformation in the U.S. military today. we can see a lot of resistance to the innovation in services like the Cyber warfare. A lot of talking about its ethical and its importance. The political factor always is the one that takes the decision of whether the innovation in the Cyber warfare will continue or not. As a result, I can assume that if military culture and the political factor encourage the transformation in a specific field it will be very rapid and the opposite if not.

    Comment by mohamed ibrahim | January 24, 2017

  5. In the US military today, I believe military culture and threat are the primary drivers of innovation. Military culture is in many ways derived from the experiences of a military in conflicts and operations. Today, the US military is shifting (or returning) its focus from counter-insurgency warfare to combined arms maneuver warfare. The American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting protracted campaigns against insurgencies with limited success is at least partially responsible for the shift.

    The other prominent reason driving our return to combined arms warfare and corresponding innovations is the threat environment. American hegemony post-Cold War is eroding as new “near-peer” adversaries arise and challenge our power projections across the globe. This characterization of the emerging threat also contributes to driving Army changes towards combined arms maneuver.

    Taken together, the drivers of change within the US military today might be aptly summed up as follows: Given the challenges and limited success of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and an understanding that significant national militaries are approaching near-peer status with our own (complete with diverging interests), the US military culture has scaled back its emphasis on counter-insurgency doctrine and placed a premium on developing combined arms maneuver capabilities to match/outpace those of our likely state adversaries of the future.

    Comment by Scott | January 28, 2017

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